The Entertainer's Garden

Designer: Linda McKeown

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About the garden

The Entertainer's Garden

This east-facing garden provides flexible spaces for easy entertaining.

‘Dividing your garden into separate zones that you can use at different times of the day really makes full use of your garden,’ says garden designer Linda McKeown.

She has taken advantage of this garden’s easterly aspect by including a patio space where the owners can enjoy early morning sun, a sunken patio with dining table that offers an enclosed space for entertaining throughout the day, and a raised platform at the back of the garden that provides a casual space to relax long into the evening. Naturalistic planting creates a sense of privacy for each of the spaces, with grasses and shrubs framing each area.

‘When planting your garden, place the largest plants – such as trees and hedges – first, then add climbers, followed by shrubs,’ says Linda. A clipped Box hedge (Buxus sempervirens), a line of upright grasses, or some topiary add structure and interest throughout the year. These can be interplanted with colourful perennials such as Primula x japonica, which starts flowering in April; Geraniums, which bloom throughout the summer; and Aster frikartii ‘Monch’, which shines in August and September.

‘Think about how plants perform through each season and how they will work together,’ Linda advises. If your garden is very small incorporate plants with two seasons of interest, such as Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine), a climber with beautifully scented, star-shaped white flowers in summer. ‘This climber is evergreen but takes on striking shades of red in winter. It is happy in sun or partial shade so it is a versatile plant in the garden and as a climber it takes up less space, which is an added bonus in a small garden.’

Linda McKeown

Linda McKeown

Linda McKeown is a Belfast-based garden designer and horticulturist. She blends dynamic materials with naturalistic planting to create bold, simple form in the garden. Linda has been awarded four medals at Bord Bia Bloom, including a Gold Medal in 2019.

Plan B

East Facing Garden

  • Back of the house is East facing
  • 15 x 9m plot
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Garden Designer Tips

Linda’s top tips for planning successful gardens.

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Trees and shrubs

If your garden is small consider planting suitable trees and shrubs in containers as this will restrict or slow their growth.

Bark and stem colour

To get the best stem colour from Cornus alba and C. sericea (Dogwoods) let them establish for a couple of years before cutting them back. Then cut a third of the stems to ground level in early spring and repeat the exercise with different stems each year.


Hero plant 1: Cercis canadensis (in a large pot)

Cercis canadensis is a multi-stemmed tree with purple, heart-shaped leaves which turn yellow in autumn, and deep pink pea-like flowers In spring. Position: Full sun, dappled shade, partial shade. Height: 8m Spread:10m


Hero plant 2: Nepeta raceamosa 'Walker's Low'

This cat mint is a lovely variety with deep blue-mauve flowers all through summer, and silvery and aromatic foliage. A great plant for pollinators. Position: Full sun. Height:0.1-0.5 metres Spread: 0.1-0.5 metres